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APIA, Samoa (August 1, 2000 -Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat)---Just who's looking after the children? That's the question Samoans are being asked in an effort to crackdown on pornography, pedophilia and child trafficking.

Samoa and other Pacific countries in recent months have been warned that pedophiles may turn to the region following the introduction of tougher laws in Asian countries.

Avalongo Eddie Ripley of the Samoa Visitors Bureau is heading the local campaign against child abuse.

He told Radio Australia’s Clement Paligaru that there's evidence pedophile rings have already moved into the region. He said law enforcement needs to act fast.

"Sex for island people is sacred; it is taboo," Ripley said. "We need expertise to disseminate this type of information to our people publicly."

Ripley said business people in American Samoa -- such as Korean, Filipino and Taiwanese immigrants -- are establishing bars and restaurants in the Pacific that also include the prostituting of young teenage girls.

An educational awareness campaign to warn villagers about the issue of possible illegal sexual acts has been established, Ripley said.

The plan also calls for monitoring of people suspected of sexual crimes so they can be alerted to law enforcement and immigration officials.

For additional reports from Radio Australia/Pacific Beat, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia/Pacific Beat.

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